Kathmandu, April 11
The government will launch an investigation into Lalita Niwas land grab case and punish those found guilty, its spokesperson said today.
The government had recently found that 113.3 ropanis of land in Baluwatar area it had acquired by compensating its owners, had been illegally occupied by private citizens. It was also found that the land was divided into parcels and sold to different people.
“We have already directed the Land Management Department to withhold all transactions related to the land,” said government’s Spokesperson and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Baskota.
The government issued this instruction after a probe committee led by Sharada Prasad Trital found that ‘land mafia’, in collusion with officials of Land Revenue Office, Dillibazar, had transferred ownership of 113.3 ropanis of land belonging to the government to private citizens between 1991 and 2017.
Trital probe committee’s report has identified Sobha Kanta Dhakal and advocate Ram Krishna Subedi as prime suspects in the land grab case. It has asked the government to launch a probe against them as they may have illegally occupied the government land in other parts of the country as well.
“We will take action against everyone involved in land grab,” said the minister.
The government of the Panchayat era led by late king Mahendra had acquired 299.9 ropanis of land at Lalita Niwas, Baluwatar, from Subarna Shumsher Rana and his family by paying compensation. Out of that land, only 4.11 ropanis were acquired without providing due compensation.
Following the restoration of democracy in 1990, the government decided to hand over some of the land that Panchayat era government had acquired. This decision was not applicable in the case of the land that the government had acquired by providing compensation. Yet the ownership of the significant area of the government land at Lalita Niwas was transferred to private citizens.
It has come to light that one of the owners of a plot of land in the area is ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s General Secretary Bishnu Paudel. The former finance minister’s son Nabin had bought eight aanas of land in Lalita Niwas. Paudel has, however, said that he was not involved in the shady deal.
“Everyone found guilty, whether they are from the ruling or opposition parties, will be punished as per the law,” said Minister Baskota, claiming, “Paudel was duped. He is innocent.”
The Central Investigation Bureau and the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority are investigating the case.
This is not the only place where land owned by the government has been grabbed illegally, according to the minister. “The government had acquired around 28 bighas of land in Siraha district. This plot has also been illegally occupied,” he said.
A Cabinet meeting held on March 12 had decided to regain control of all land plots that were illegally grabbed by private citizens.
A version of this article appears in print on April 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.